It can't be a coincidence that two consulting partners I interviewed recently were both sharply critical of the last few years of IT efforts at 'alignment'. They argued that too often many CIOs mollified complaining business units who whined that IT was too slow and too rigid -- so they really need their own apps and infrastructure. Whoops. This resulted in a swing to such extreme business unit autonomy that companies began choking on proliferating apps and redundant infrastructure.
So, no surprise, both partners, two separate leading firms, observed that once again it's time for the pendulum swing to app, infrastructure, and data centralization, process standardization, and cost reduction by shutting down and shoring up portfolios (no doubt with a bit of consulting help).
Coincidentally, not long ago one CIO proudly told me that his enterprise architecture diagram fit on a single page that he could carry around and discuss, in business terms, with peers. I nodded skeptically. But I remembered that image as one of the consulting partners observed: “If you’re going to have an enterprise architect, you must charter them very carefully. The target architecture must be simple (including infrastructure, apps, and data). Every time it gets complicated, I fire someone. There is a huge contribution that EA can make to get it simple.”
I wonder how often the ‘get it simple’ is, in fact, a list-topping priority of the EA group? Or are do they play more of a standard platform approval role? A how-can-we-fit-this-new-app-in role? A wish-we-had-more-power-but-we-don’t influence role? Or a go-figure-out-this-new-buzzword role?
Think about it – a mission to achieve an architecture that is one page simple. Cuts app maintenance costs, infrastructure, arguments over which data store has the right data. Shortens those 3-5 year transformation programs, prolongs CIO job tenure because IT systems and strategy can be explained. I know it’s crazy in the big and complicated firms -- and maybe SOA, SaaS, virtualization, and cloud computing are all paths en route to simple. We can hope.
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